Couple are Mukilteo’s Citizens of the Year
Steve and Darlene Conklé, of Mukilteo, have been named Mukilteo’s Citizens of the Year.
The Kiwanis-sponsored award is given to a Mukilteo citizen to recognize the outstanding contributions he or she has made to the city. Couples may also be recognized.
The Conklés were honored at the Mukilteo Kiwanis meeting on Aug. 1.
“We are honored to be recognized by the community and be a part of Mukilteo's history,” Darlene said, through some tears. “It’s amazing.”
Kiwanis received three letters from peer volunteers nominating Steve and Darlene.
In the letters, they noted the countless hours the couple has worked as leaders and volunteers for a variety of community service and fundraising events in Mukilteo, year after year.
“They volunteer as a team for many community projects,” wrote Tom Nielsen. “The two of them complement each other’s skills in always getting the job done.
“I think they both exemplify the spirit of giving and making the community a better place.”
Seven judges – all former Citizens of the Year – voted unanimously to give the award to both Steve and Darlene, said Tim Taylor, also a judge.
“It’s always a difficult decision because you have [nominees from] different cross sections of the community,” Taylor said. “This year it really wasn’t all that difficult.”
Of the Conklés’ many contributions to Mukilteo, noted in the letters were these:
Darlene has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Mukilteo since 2001, the year she and Steve moved from Valpariso, Ind. Steve was an associate member until he officially joined the club in 2007.
As Kiwanis members, Steve and Darlene both organize and help carry out several club fundraisers and service projects, including the Salmon Bake, Pancake Breakfast and Camp Killoqua.
“We do a yearly construction project up there for them at Camp Killoqua; its Camp Fire USA,” Steve said. “It’s good. We bring our tools and go to town.”
Darlene has served on the club’s board since she joined, and is the vice president and newsletter editor. She also serves as an interface adviser for the Harbour Pointe and Olympic View middle schools Builders Clubs.
Steve and Darlene are also volunteers for with the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce. Darlene served for two years on the chamber’s board as the first non-profit member.
She and Steve have since continued to help with events and fundraisers at all levels – such as the Business Showcase, After Hours Social and the Summer Outdoor Movie Series.
“We’re just behind the scenes, giving a hand to the chamber,” Steve said. “It’s a chance to work with people you see throughout the community here. They need extra people all the time.”
They also both are very involved in the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Association. Darlene served as executive director in 2004, after the city cut the festival budget, and again in 2005 and 2011. Steve was treasurer in 2004 and president in 2005.
They both are now members of the festival board: Darlene co-chairs the Salmon Bake and Steve is in charge of the logistics.
Steve and/or Darlene also serve or have served for Zonta, Greater Seattle Newcomers, American Society of Safety Engineers, General Aviation Day, National Night Out and as judges of students’ Culminating Projects at Mariner High School.
The Conklés said they volunteer because they feel that their community is their family.
“We’re not living in the places where we grew up,” Darlene said. “We don’t have our immediate family close by, so through community service we feel more a part of this community family.”
Darlene said she seeks out newcomers to Mukilteo and asks if they’d like to volunteer in the community. She said she knows what it’s like to be new to the area, so she likes to help them get involved and make connections.
“It’s how you connect with people,” Steve said. “You can’t do it from your couch. You have to get out there.”
As Citizens of the Year, the Conklés get their names engraved on a plaque that hangs in the Mukilteo Library, as well as their own plaque, and will be in the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival parade on Saturday, Sept. 8.
They will also be honored in a ceremony with the Pioneer of the Year at the lighthouse at 3 p.m. that Saturday.
Steve and Darlene succeed Elizabeth Erickson, owner and broker of Gallery Homes Real Estate, who was the 2011 Citizen of the Year.
To nominate the 2013 Citizen of the Year, look in the Mukilteo Beacon for the form available in June.